North Korea unleashed a verbal onslaught at U.S. leader Donald Trump on Saturday, blasting him as “a warmonger” who “begged for a nuclear war,” in Pyongyang’s first official comments on his ongoing visit to Asia.
“Trump, during his visit, laid bare his true nature as destroyer of the world peace and stability and begged for a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry official as saying.
Pyongyang conducted its largest nuclear test to date in September and has test-fired dozens of missiles this year, including some thought capable of striking the mainland United States.
Speaking before South Korea’s National Assembly on Wednesday, Trump exhorted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to halt his pursuit of nuclear weapons, saying that they “are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger.”
Invoking the United States’ alliance with South Korea, he had a stark warning for Kim: “Do not underestimate us and do not try us.”
The speech was a marked shift from Trump’s earlier pronouncements that saw him threaten to rain “fire and fury” on the North and to “totally destroy” the country of 25 million people if it threatened the U.S. or its allies.
But in a retort to his speech in Seoul, the North laid into the U.S. leader.
“The reckless remarks by a dotard like Trump can never frighten us or put a stop to our advance,” it said. Rather, it “pushes us to speed up the efforts to accomplish the great cause of completing the state nuclear force.”
The North also rapped Trump’s trip to Asia as a “warmonger’s visit … to rid the DPRK of its self-defensive nuclear deterrence,” blasting the president’s pitches to sell advanced weaponry to Japan and South Korea.
“It is also nothing but a business trip by a warmonger to enrich the monopolies of the U.S. defense industry by milking the moneybags from its subordinate ‘allies,’ ” the North said.
Trump said Japan “is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment” and noted that South Korea “will be ordering billions of dollars” of weaponry.
Trump’s five-nation tour has taken him to Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam, where he attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, and later to the Philippines for the East Asia Summit.
The trip came amid rare joint military exercises involving three U.S. aircraft carriers — the first time in a decade that three have operated together in the area.
Japan was also sending a massive helicopter destroyer — one of the largest warships in its fleet — to train Sunday with the three carriers in waters near the Korean Peninsula.
The rare three-carrier strike force exercises kicked off Saturday in the Sea of Japan and will run through Tuesday.
Saturday’s KCNA report said that amid the U.S. military shows of strength, the North would defend its “sovereignty and rights to existence and development by keeping a real balance of force with the U.S.”
That sentiment echoed earlier charges out of Pyongyang that it would continue to seek a “final goal” of military “equilibrium” with the United States.
“Time is now gone forever when the U.S. used to threaten and blackmail us with nuclear weapons,” the North’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday.